Monthly Archives: February 2009

A night at the Alibi Room

Last night I went to the Alibi Room with my friends Peter, Dave and Gavin.  Erik was going to come, but he was busy roasting a chicken, it happens.  Our visit came about because of comment’s Rick Green left on Dave’s guest post, wondering what Dave might think of the Alibi Room in comparison to Original Joe’s.  It didn’t take much convincing to get a group out for beers after work, considering we are always up for some good merry making.  That aside, the Alibi Room has a fantastic beer selection to tempt any enthusiast.

The Alibi Room has 19 taps of fresh, relatively local draught beer, plus many more bottled options, as well as the odd cask, all of which are in constant rotation.  For a beer drinker, this is heaven.  Not only do they have the best beer selection in BC, but there is always something new.  In fact, the owner makes special trips to the island to pick up casks and kegs himself

I had a very hard time choosing what four beers to put into my “frat bat”.  I ended up going for the Swans Cask ESB, Longwood “Batch 1000” Doppelbock, Dix Texan Brown, and Steamworks Roggenweizen.  I also sampled the Swans Extra IPA and ordered a pint of the Swans Cask ESB later on.  I think we all enjoyed the Cask ale the most, but I was also particularly impressed with the Longwood Doppelbock.  I didn’t care too much for the Roggenweizen (too spicy) or the Texan Brown, but neither are preferred styles of mine.

Peter and Dave with empty plates/glasses at the Alibi Room

Peter and Dave with empty plates/glasses at the Alibi Room

We also had some very tasty, reasonably priced food.  After splitting some chicken wings and a cheese plate, we ordered two each of their roast beef sandwich special and their bison dip, which were both quite good.  I planned to take some pictures of our glorious spread of beer and food, but I completely forgot until we’d pretty much finished everything to the last crumb/drop.  Still, I have a picture of our empty plates and glasses, testament to the good times we shared with great food and beer at the Alibi Room.  I hope we end up making this a regular after work occurrence!



Brewday 2009

Last Saturday was the first of hopefully many brew-days this year.  I have been an active homebrewer for almost a year and a half now.   My love for homebrewing started while walking down a Home Hardware store in the small town of Qualicum on Vancouver Island.  This particular store sold a home brewing kit – the thought of brewing my own beer was intriguing and had never previously crossed my mind.  Although I did not buy the kit that day, I made it my personal mission to become a homebrew master – I’m not there yet, but one day.

Unfortunately, all of my friends, including Chris, who clearly cares more about Mats Sundin than me, were busy, so had to go it alone.  All in all it was a relaxing Saturday spent brewing what will hopefully become a delicious IPA.

Wyeast 1968 London ESB Yeast - it should leave a pronounced malt flavour in the beer to balance out the hops
Wyeast 1968 London ESB Yeast – it should leave a pronounced malt flavour in the beer to balance out the hops bitterness

The Mash Tun - 2 Row Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Caramel 80, Bicuit, Carapils
The Mash Tun – 2 Row Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Caramel 80, Biscuit, Carapils. This should be maltier than most American IPA’s

Vaurlautter - Draining sweet wort from the mash and then pouring the hot wort back into the mash again and again until the wort runs clear.  Any grain left in the wort could result in an astringent taste/mouthfeel.

Vorlaufing - Draining sweet wort from the mash and then recirculating back into the mash tun again and again until the wort runs clear. Any grain left in the wort could result in an astringent taste and mouthfeel.

Wort slowly filling the brew kettle

Wort slowly filling the brew kettle

Sweet wort in the brew kettle approaching a boil.  Once it reaches a boil the foam layer on top explosed everywhere if the brewer is not standing by.

Sweet wort in the brew kettle approaching a boil. Once it reaches a boil the foam layer on top explodes everywhere - if the brewer is not standing by.

The Brewkettle

The Brewkettle

Adding hops to the wort.  Centeniall 60 min, Cascade 30 min, Amarillo 5 min

Adding hops to the wort. Centennial 60 min, Cascade 30 min, Amarillo 5 min

Immersion wort chiller cooling of the wort. The hot wort needs to go from boiling to room tempurate in 30 minutes or less.  If not a nasty infection could occur.

Immersion wort chiller cooling the wort. The hot wort needs to go from boiling to room temperature as quickly as possible. If not a nasty infection could spoil the brew.

Cooled wort begning its weeklong ferment.  I'll start at 66F and slowly ramp up to 70F over the course of a week.  London ESB yeast has a reputatin for throwing in the towel before the ferment is finished, the warmer tempurature should help the yeast along.

Cooled wort beginning its week long ferment.


Stout Burgers

This past Saturday I had some friends over to watch Mats’ victorious return to Toronto.  To celebrate the Canucks glorious victory, I made Stout Burgers (thanks for the recipe Dave).  Sadly, I forgot to take pictures, but I can tell you they were delicious.  We also found the burgers to be giant.  The recipe calls for only six burgers, weighing in at just under a half pound each.  Needless to say, they were a mouth full.  I can’t honestly say I noticed the Stout in the burgers, but the beer did help keep the patties nice and moist.  They were also very spicy, which I enjoyed, but others may not.  In any case, if you like burgers, I recommend giving the recipe a try.

– Olive oil (to saute)
– 2.5 lb. of ground beef
– 1 onion, diced
– 3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
– 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
– 2 tbsp thyme
– 1 tbsp oregano
– 1 egg
– 1 bottle of Stout
– 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
– 1 tsp celery salt
– 1 tsp black pepper
1. Saute onion, peppers, garlic, thyme and oregano over medium heat until onion is translucent.  Refrigerate until cool.
2. Stir together ground beef, sauteed mixture (step 1) and egg until blended thoroughly
3. Stir in Guinness slowly.  Add parsley, celery salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.  Refrigerate 3 hours.
4. Form meat mixture into 6 patties.  Cook on grill at 375*F, turning until well-done (approx. 7-10 mins. each side).  Don’t “squish” burgers to grill, you’ll lose the juices.
In case you missed Mats’ glorious shootout winner, here is a video of the whole shootout:


Real Beer

As some may have already noticed, my presence on over the past few weeks has slowly faded.  I feel I owe a bit of an apology for this neglect – could this negligence on my behalf be considered alcohol abuse?

Part of this is due to a new job – they tend to take up a good portion of time.  I have a hard time finding inspiration to blog after spending all day sitting in front of a computer editing and drafting business communication pieces.  This is not a valid excuse – most of us either have a job or would like to have one.  Once I have settled in a little more at my current work I will post on a regular basis once again.

The other reason for my diminishing online presence, and perhaps the largest reason, is a genuine fear of slowly turning into a beer snob.  I have a tremendous respect and passion for beer and therefore want to always portray beer as simply just beer.  Beer is an incredibly complex drink with a long history which is intertwined with the development of modern human civilization – but to most it is just beer and I see no problem with that.  This blog was started because Chris and I both love beer. We wanted an opportunity to learn more about beer and share our passion for this tasty beverage with others.  Over the course of the past few months I have learned that beer is an inclusive drink, and it should always be that way.

Take for example my recent experience in California’s Napa Valley – I also love good wine.  My wife and I purchased a five dollar discount-shelf wine country guide book in San Francisco this past summer and took to the wind in our rented Toyota Echo.  The guide book turned out to be less useful than we had hoped, I got what I payed for I suppose.  With so many wineries to see in only two days we needed to develop a strategy.  We decide to visit wineries with the best sounding names – this seemed logical to me.  After visiting our first winery, we were told by the snooty wine tasting woman that perhaps we should try a different road to travel from vineyard to vineyard on because the area we were in was “too exclusive”.  And this was after we paid $20 for a sip of over-hyped wine.  This put a damper on the afternoon – no one wants to be excluded.  Wine should never be an exclusive drink, but as demonstrated above, often times it is.

Wine and beer share similar histories; many ancient civilizations consumed large amounts of either beer or wine and they all recognized the ability of these two beverages to nourish and bring pleasure.  Wine and beer helped turn survival from a daily struggle into a joyful celebration.  Wine became a drink for the elite when the ancient Greeks mastered viticulture and beer was a left as a drink for the barbarians to the north.  Only the wealthy could afford good wine and suddenly wine became an exclusive pleasure reserved only for middle to upper class citizens.  To this day Northern Europe produces beer and Southern Europe produces wine.  Wine is still the drink of choice for society’s elite and beer is still for the working class citizens.  I am generalizing a lot here – I am sure many wealthy people love beer and vice versa.

The attitude that “real ale” must be preservative free, naturally carbonated, and poured from a sediment heavy bottle or cask does not agree with me.  I mean no disrespect to CAMRA, I am a proud card carrying member, but this concept of real beer seems inaccurate.  This concept of real ale implies that most of my friends do not enjoy real beer and that when I go out for lunch with my new work colleagues I am not drinking real beer.  Real ale may be brewed following traditional recipes and techniques, but I believe these recipes are somewhat off the mark.  This new concept of real ale seems somewhat exclusive – the attitude that inclusive macro-brewed beer is not real, is just plain wrong.

If beer tastes good, provides nourishment and brings joy to the drinker, than it is real beer.  Everything from premium craft beer to light bohemian macro-brewed lager is real beer.


Beer Shopping and a Mill Street Update

One of my good friends Peter, of guest post fame, just took a job near Firefly.  In preparation for Sundin’s return to the centre of the universe, we did a little beer shopping on our lunch breaks.  It is always fun to introduce a friend to the glorious bounty held within Vancouver’s specialty beer stores. Both of us came home with some tasty treats:



This week's collective haul.

The haul this week, Leafs suck, woooo!

I recently noticed a full page Mill Street ad on the back cover of Taps and was reminded of my Mill Street quest. I’ve already sampled four of their five bottled brews, notably the Tankhouse and Stock Ales, and more recently their Coffee Porter and Belgian Wit.  I enjoyed the Coffee Porter, a Canadian Brewing Awards gold medal winner.  I was not as fond of the Wit, which I found to be too flavored by its adjuncts.  In any case, I figured I should give the Organic Lager a try.

What struck me about the Mill Street ad was their emphasis on recent awards, which include Canadian brewery of the year.  I have the utmost respect for the CBA organizers and judges, who impartially conduct blind tastings. However, I’m wondering if the beer provided by the brewers for the judges is the same bottled beer waiting for consumers on liquor store shelves?  I am not accusing any brewery of foul play (I hate the Leafs, I like Mill Street), but I’m sure the breweries see the marketing value in winning these awards.  I may be out of line, but I consider this food for thought.